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For undergraduate level courses in Cognition and Theories of Learning.
The psychology of human memory and cognition is fascinating, dealing with questions and ideas that are inherently interesting, such as how we think, reason, remember, and use language. Using a first person narrative, posing direct questions to the reader, and balancing classic research with cutting edge topics, the author draws in the reader and conveys the excitement of the field.
Reflecting the increasing use of new technologies to study memory and cognition, Ashcraft and the new co-author, Gabriel Radvansky, continue to integrate sections on neurosciences within individual chapter topics.
The psychology of human memory and cognition is fascinating, dealing with questions and ideas that are inherently interesting; how we think, reason, remember, and use language, to name just a few. When cognitive psychologists talk research at conventions, they are agitated, intense, and full of energy. In contrast to this enthusiasm, however, undergraduate texts often portray the field as dull, too concerned with the minutiae of experimental method and technical jargon and not concerned enough with the interesting issues.
Without slighting the empirical foundation of the field, I have tried to capture some of the excitement of the area. All professors want their students to understand the material, of course, but I also want you to appreciate cognitive psychology as one of the most interesting and memorable topics of your student career. Several features of the book are designed to accomplish this.
To engage your interest and understanding, examples of the main points are sprinkled throughout the text. Most of the chapters have a box that asks you to Prove It; it gives you a demonstration project that can be done quickly to illustrate the points being made in that chapter. Furthermore, several demonstrations per chapter are available on the book's Web site at http://www.prenhall.com/ashcraft. You can conduct most of these miniature experiments with only moderate effort and little or no equipment. These are some of the best ways to see memory and cognition in action.
Mastering the terminology of a new field can be difficult. To help you with the jargon, critical terms are boldfaced in the text and definedimmediately in italicized print. Each chapter's terms are listed at the end of the chapter, and the entire collection of terms and definitions appears in the Glossary at the end of the book. Try studying for exams by playing a Jeopardy-like game with the glossary; one person reads a definition, the other names the defined term.
Each major section of a chapter ends with a brief Section Summary. This along with the listing of glossary terms at the end of each chapter should help you check your understanding and memory as you study. Note that some people find it helpful to read the Section Summaries first as a preview of the section's content.
The Web site also has Suggested Readings, articles and books that can help you pursue a particular topic. These are updated periodically, so check back occasionally to see what's new.
I have intentionally used a more colloquial style than is customary in the field (or in texts in general), using the first person, posing direct questions to the reader, inserting parenthetical commentary, and so on. My students have told me that these features make the book more enjoyable to read; one said "it's interesting—not like a textbook," which I took as a compliment. Some professors may expect a more formal, detached style, of course. I would rather have you read and remember the material than have you cope with a book selected because of a carefully pedantic style. Besides, you will have plenty of time to deal with boring books in graduate school.
To the Instructor
Like the first two editions, this edition is directed primarily toward undergraduates at the junior and senior level, who are probably taking their first basic course in memory and cognition. It has also been used successfully in introductory graduate surveys, especially when first-year students need a more thorough background in memory and cognition.
There is much continuity between the second edition of Human Memory and Cognition and this edition, now titled simply Cognition: The foundation areas in cognition are still covered thoroughly, as you'll see in the Table of Contents. But this revision has several new features that you'll want to note.
Since the second edition of this book was published in 1994, there has been a tremendous increase in the study of memory and cognition with the technologies and perspectives of cognitive neuroscience, or neurocognition, as I often call it. To reflect the centrality of those approaches to the topic, the book no longer segregates the neurocognitive evidence in a separate chapter. Instead, this edition integrates that material throughout the book. A major section of Chapter 2 provides background information on neurons and the brain, so even students without formal coursework on the biological basis of cognition will be prepared for the neurocognitive evidence they'll encounter throughout the book.
There has been a thorough updating of the book, adding important new topics and developments that are central to the field, such as false memory research, the rapidly expanding research on working memory's influences, new research on the varieties of attention, and new strides in online investigations of comprehension and reading. There has also been some careful pruning of topics and streamlining of presentation.
As in the first two editions, I have tried to strike a balance between basic, core material and cutting-edge topics. As cognitive psychology continues to evolve, it is important to maintain some continuity with older topics and evidence. Students need to understand how we got here, and instructors cannot be expected to start from scratch each time they teach the course. But revising the book continues to be a very revealing exercise in how cognitive psychology has changed in the past few years.
In a variety of ways, this edition uses Web-based resources for professors and students alike. Each chapter includes Web-based activities, denoted by the CW symbol in the margins. Students will find demonstrations and exercises on the book's Web page (http://www.prenhall.com/ashcraft), along with Suggested Readings. Where possible, I note which readings are appropriate for undergraduates and which are too difficult for students at that level. The Instructor's Manual is also heavily Web-based; the Web pages include graphs and illustrations from the book that can be downloaded or printed onto transparencies. A test item file also is available via the Web; make sure your Prentice Hall sales representative gives you the necessary information to take advantage of these e-resources.
I hope that the balance between classic research and current topics, the style I have adopted, and the standard organization I have used will make the text easy to teach from and easy for students to read and remember. More important, I hope that you will find my portrayal of the field of cognitive psychology useful. As always, I am delighted to receive the comments and suggestions of those who use this book, instructors and students alike. Write in care of the Psychology Department, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The list of students, colleagues, and publishing professionals who have helped shape this project continues to grow. For editorial support and assistance, I thank Jane Sudbrink, Denise Workman, Rebecca Strehlow, Jean Dal Porto, Catherine Woods, Marcus Boggs, Heide Chavez, Eric Stano, and Jayme Heffler. Professional colleagues who have assisted across the years include R. Reed Hunt, John Jonides, Michael Masson, James S. Nairne, Marjorie Reed, Gregory B. Simpson, Richard Griggs, Richard Jackson Harris, Donald Homa, Paul Whitney, Tom Carr, Frances Friedrich, Dave Geary, Mike McCloskey, Morton Gernsbacher, Art Graesser, Keith Holyoak, George Kellas, Mark Marschark, and Fred Smith. In addition to many of my undergraduate classes, I'd like to thank a few special students who have helped in a variety of ways, from reading and critiquing to duplicating and checking references: Mike Faust, David Fleck, Elizabeth Kirk, David Copeland, and Don Seyler. I'm very grateful to all.